Arkansas Department of Education Updated Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Meal Pattern Changes

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Child Nutrition
Regulatory Authority
Richard B. Russell National School Act, 7CFR 210, 215, 220
Response Required
Superintendents; Principals

Primary Contact Information

Memo Text



The purpose of this memo is to clarify changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal pattern that will become mandatory as of October 1, 2017.  These changes will affect School Districts and School Food Authorities (SFA) that serve and claim for federal reimbursement Pre-K meals as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or School Breakfast Program (SBP).   Additionally, any SFA providing Pre-K meals as contract meals must comply with these changes to the CACFP meal pattern.   SFAs will need to focus on the breakfast, lunch, and snack patterns for the 3-5 age grade group for the Pre-K meal pattern.   Current K-5, K-8, 6-8, and 9-12 breakfast and lunch meal patterns are not affected by these changes.


The changes to the CACFP meal pattern are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scientific recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine, and unit stakeholders.  The changes assure that the meals will make available and provide a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, increase the availability of whole grains, and decrease sugars and saturated fats.


Changes to the CACFP breakfast meal pattern are as follows:


The breakfast meal consists of three (3) components which are 1% or skim, unflavored milk, whole grain rich or enriched grains, and fruits/vegetables or a combination of both.

  • All three (3) components must be served for the breakfast meal to be reimbursable.
  • Offer versus Serve (OVS) is not an option for the new CACFP breakfast, lunch, or snack meal patterns except for adults and at-risk afterschool participants.
  •  Flavored milk is not allowed.
  • Pasteurized full-strength juice may be used only one (1) time per day (across all meals served) to meet the fruit/vegetable requirement for breakfast, lunch, or snacks.
  • At least one (1) serving of grain must be whole grain rich each day. This rule extends across all meals served.
  • Breakfast cereals may contain no more than six (6) grams of sugar per dry ounce and/or no more than 21.2 grams of sucrose or other sugars be 100 grams of cereal.
  • One (1) ounce of meat/meat alternate may be used at breakfast up to three (3) times per week in place of the grain requirement.
  • Beginning October 2019, the grains will be specified as ounce equivalents.  Until October 2019 the minimum serving size for children ages 3-5 is 1/3 cup.

Changes to the CACFP lunch meal pattern are as follows:


The lunch meal pattern consists of five (5) components which are 1% or skim, unflavored milk, meat/meat alternate, whole grain rich or enriched grains, fruits, and vegetables.


 In addition to the specifications listed for breakfast, the following specifications also apply to lunch:

  • All five (5) components must be served for the lunch meal to be reimbursable.
  • Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of total sugars per 6 ounce portion.
  • Peanuts, soy nuts, tree nuts or seeds may be used to meet no more than one half (1/2) of the meat/meat alternate daily requirement.
  • If soy products such as tofu are used to meet the meat alternate requirement, the products must comply with Appendix A to part 226.
  • A vegetable may be used to meet the entire fruit requirement.  If two vegetables are used to meet this requirement, it must be two different vegetables.
  • Grain based desserts may not be used to credit toward the reimbursable CACFP meal pattern.
  • Frying is not allowed as a means of on-site preparation.

Changes to the CACFP snack meal pattern are as follows:


The snack meal pattern consists of five (5) components to include 1% or skim, unflavored milk, meat/meat alternate, vegetables, fruits, and whole grain rich or enriched grains.


In addition to the specification listed for breakfast and lunch, the following applies:

  • Two (2) of the five (5) meal components must be served for the snack to be reimbursable.

SFAs are expected to comply with these changes but may choose to continue with the current CACFP meal pattern until the October 1, 2017 date.


The updated CACFP Meal Standards Chart, and the CACFP Meal Pattern Comparison Chart is attached to this memo.  Menu planners, Child Nutrition Directors, and site Managers should refer to this chart for menu planning and determining reimbursable meals served to children.


Please pay close attention to the K-12 Afterschool Snack Service under the NSLP section of the attached Meal Pattern Comparison Chart.  This chart is helpful in determining the differences in the meal patterns for SBP, NSLP, and CACFP.


Please contact your Area Specialist at 501-324-9502 if you have question concerning these changes to the CACFP Meal Pattern.

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